Most of us who are personal finance bloggers and/or blog readers are interested in finding ways to save money. Over the years, we have been given advice on how to do so, and have probably come up with our own strategies as well. These money saving approaches are often geared toward bigger picture expenses such as a mortgage, education, or even a vehicle. However, the day-to-day expenses are more than worthy of being looked at as well.
For me, there are different ways to save on day-to-day expenses. The best overall money saving tip I have for such expenses is:
Have as few bad, unnecessary day-to-day habits as possible
What, were you expecting something about bringing lunch from home, walking to work, etc? Well, those are good specific tips for saving money. I’m talking about daily habits that are not necessary, harmful, and are truly wants rather than needs.
One example of an unnecessary habit is cigarette smoking. Thankfully, the rate of smoking in the U.S. has declined, and it has become harder for people to smoke in public places. In the state in which I live, Illinois, smoking became banned in restaurants/bars a few years ago. Public buildings don’t allow smoking. So there are plenty of economic disincentives to stop, not to mention the incredibly greater importance of the health reasons. But when you do look at the cost of that habit, it’s clearly staggering, both in today’s costs (cigarette purchases) and tomorrow’s costs (health care expenses).
Fortunately, I never engaged in this habit – nor did I ever have any temptation to do so. It probably saved a ton of totally unnecessary expense.
A second example is caffeinated drinks. Actually, it could be any unnecessary drink, but let’s stick to those with caffeine. This is one that I have battled in recent years. Last year, I gave up caffeine for a few months, only to be drawn back into it….then I gave it up again, which is where I’m at today.
I really liked Diet Coke. Each day would include a diet coke in the morning, and one in the afternoon – either with lunch or during the home stretch at work. Often, one of those drinks would be of the 32 ounce variety. I probably averaged 40 ounces or so per day during some stretches – or the equivalent of 3-plus regular cans. Each day. It was a habit.
The thing is, it wasn’t necessary. It was a habit, and one that involved getting hooked on these drinks. I would say each working day involved spending at least $2 on such drinks. If you annualize, using 250 working days, that’s $500 per year. Instead of going to all water, I might have a decaf coffee or other drink twice a week. Projected forward, this comes to about 100 days a year of purchased drinks, at $1 per drink, totaling $100. Just by eliminating a bad habit, and substituting some occasional non-habit forming beverages on occasion, that cuts expenses by $400. Just for that habit.
This can go on and on, to cutting a vending machine habit, and yes – eating meals out. Either way, it’s about cutting bad habits and living a healthier, less complicated existence. Being able to make good habits a part of daily life instead of bad, unnecessary habits is my best tip for saving money day-to-day.